BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and France asked the European Commission on Friday to draft proposals for a financial transactions tax involving at least nine countries, after they failed to win backing for such a levy across the entire European Union.
Germany had originally wanted a tax covering financial transactions across the 27-nation EU but the plan ran into opposition from Britain and some other countries, prompting it to push ahead instead for a core group to introduce the levy.
The plan needs the support of a minimum nine EU member states under a process known as 'enhanced cooperation' to move ahead. Italy, Spain and Austria are among countries that have expressed support for such a tax in the past, but it remains unclear whether a full nine can be rallied to back the drive.
According to a statement from the German finance ministry, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and his French counterpart Pierre Moscovici delivered a common letter to the Commission on Friday asking it to present proposals for a levy.
"In a further common letter, both ministers turned to the finance ministers of other member states and invited them to join this initiative henceforth and send a similar letter to the European Commission," the statement read.
"The German government, together with the French government, will continue to advocate emphatically for the integration process and work on convincing the other member states, so that the circle of those who participate in the enhanced co-operation on the financial transaction tax becomes as big as possible."
The Commission was unavailable for immediate comment.
Schaeuble had said in June that he accepted there would be no pan-EU agreement and he would now seek to build a scaled down group.
A group of willing EU countries has been negotiating for months details of a possible transaction tax to put a brake on financial markets and fill public coffers.
The German government hopes to placate demands by the main opposition in its parliament to move towards such a tax in return for their support in approving bailout measures for ailing European states.
(Reporting by Gareth Jones and Sarah Marsh in Berlin, Additional reporting by Luke Baker in Brussels)